“I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and He answered me. I called out to You from the land of the dead, and Lord, You heard me!” ~ Jonah 2:2 NLT
When people are at their lowest, God hears their cries to Him and saves them. This message of a benevolent God of love and mercy seems to resonate with most people. But His holiness also calls for judgement when necessary. So why do we linger in sinful misery before crying out to Him?
Let’s look at the prophet Jonah in the Bible. He refused to preach God’s message of salvation to the Assyrian people of Nineveh – a particularly evil, idolatrous, and violent capital of Mesopotamia (located in modern-day Turkey and Iraq).
“Nineveh was so large that it took three days to see it all”. ~Jonah 3:3 NLT
Imagine! It may have been the equivalent of Las Vegas – known today as Sin City; full of glittering neon lights and sinful attractions along with idolatry. Anyway, God had decided to judge the people of Nineveh for their sins. Our merciful Father in Heaven had, however, allowed them a way to escape judgement. They could repent within 40 days or be destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah.
Jonah was having none of it. He evidently hated the Assyrians. As a consequence, it cost Jonah his life and almost cost the lives of his shipmates and an entire city of people. Oh, I shrink from the horrifying thought of what my actions cost others when I behave like Jonah!
And yet, the lesson continues …
Jonah eventually repented and God gave him a second chance.
“Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.” ~ Jonah 2:10 NLT
Jonah finally obeyed God. He went to Nineveh, and preached God’s Word.
“5The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow. 10When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, He changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction He had threatened.” ~ Jonah 3:5,10 NLT
Happy ending, right? Jonah is resurrected from a watery grave; the ship and all it’s crew are saved from the storm and worship the one true God; and a whole city is also saved.
Wrong! Well, no doubt it was a joyful event for the people and animals of Nineveh. But Jonah was so angry he complained to God about (of all things) God’s mercy and compassion to sinners. See, Jonah was certain all along that if he preached to them, the people of Nineveh would repent. God would forgive them because of His benevolent nature, and forego their destruction … RATS! His worst fears were realized.
“Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.” ~ Jonah 4:3 NLT
Then God gently rebuked Jonah:
“4Is it right for you to be angry about this? 11But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?” ~ Jonah 4:4,11 NLT
That is the last Word given to us in the Book of Jonah. I rest upon God’s wisdom.
“Father, although we are worthy of judgement and destruction, today I glorify You for showing Your power to mankind in love, mercy and salvation instead of what we deserve. Thank you for the hope we have in Your gift of a new year 2019; to recognize Your willingness to give each of us another chance to be obedient to Your Word … Especially that we would realize that all men are equal in Your sight and deserve our love and respect. In the name of JESUS; ALPHA AND OMEGA; THE LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SINS OF THE WORLD, Amen!”
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